These Are the Days of Healthy Growth for an Open-source ERP Provider






These days, amid the austerity, cuts, and general malaise, it is refreshing to hear about the whopping annual growth of a manufacturing-oriented enterprise resource planning (ERP) software vendor. Sure, one can discount the magnitude of this upbeat news—this particular vendor is still budding, if you compare it to SAP, Oracle, or Infor—but I welcome this it(and so should any ERP vendor). More impressively, the vendor in case, xTuple, has also been tirelessly delivering new features for customers, and all the tinkering in the lab isn’t keeping it from ringing the cash register.



At the recent quarterly company meeting, xTuple President and CEO Ned Lilly reported sales revenue up 66 percent over the same quarter last year, while sales revenue for the first half of 2012 was up 49 percent overall from the first half of 2011. The private company, reportedly profitable for many years now, also continues to grow its global network of software implementation partners—by a factor of 30 percent in 2011—and is on track to exceed that growth in 2012. These partners are ERP systems and technology experts who implement and customize xTuple software worldwide. Lilly also reviewed the expanded educational offerings delivered to partners and customers, both in traditional classroom sessions and on a variety of online platforms.

xTuple's Mid-2012 Snapshot

Additionally, xTuple's headcount grew by 33 percent in the first half of 2012. The company now includes remote offices in seven US states and Canada in addition to its 10,000 square foot Norfolk, Virginia, headquarters. The company's current snapshot is as follows:

  • 30 full-time employees

  • 55 partners/resellers (more information on the xTuple Partner Program may be found here)

  • At least partially translated into 26 languages

  • 240 commercial license customers

  • Over 500 initially free and open source software (FOSS) customers who have bought something from the vendor (training, docs, add-ons, etc.)

  • About 3,000 companies using xTuple's PostBooks FOSS product in production (best guess/estimate)

  • Users at about 30,000 companies registered in xTuple's online community

  • Over 1,000,000 downloads (if anyone cares about that number anymore)


In our recent exchange, Ned Lilly said the following:
On xTuple's growth, I think it's pretty simple—we've got a product (and an approach) that people like. As an example, our VP of Sales visited a prospect this week, who had purchased and implemented one of the ancient ERP products just a few weeks before it was acquired by Infor. They've got a sharp team that's worked with many different ERP systems over the years, and they know they need to make a change. They appreciate the breadth of our functionality for sure—but as importantly, they like our transparency, our community of users and partners, and our (for lack of a better word) humility.

So I wouldn't say that we've discovered a hidden country of green pastures necessarily—but I think we are a more compelling offering for both experienced ERP hands who need to make a move (like the guys above), as well as a more scalable system for the "Quickbooks plus" crowd. Not a week goes by where we don't get some variation of the following e-mail:


"My company has been using PostBooks for X months, and we really like it. We're ready to buy 10 seats of xTuple Manufacturing Edition, and we'd like to talk to you about such-and-such a feature."


But my personal favorite is the model of the individual who implements xTuple at their company, then decides to hang out their own shingle as an xTuple consultant. It's all part of that business model about "grow your world."

What Lilly refers to in this last paragraph is that in addition to new online distance learning courses, two international xTuple training classes were held in Washington, DC this summer. Attendees included new xTuple Partners from Australia and Brazil who started as users of xTuple's free PostBooks product in family businesses in manufacturing and construction. These new Partners are now developing consultancy businesses in their respective countries around xTuple software and services. This successful business model xTuple has seen numerous times before with entrepreneurs across the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe.

Ongoing Innovation

Product development efforts at xTuple go unabated as well, proving wrong those who claim that growth and investment in the future do not go hand in hand. The vendor is in the midst of delivering a mobile Web client that runs on every tablet, and nearly every smartphone, is fully optimized for mobile screen navigation (touch, slide, etc.), and is fully interoperable with the xTuple desktop graphic user interface (GUI) client. That is, both clients connect to the same xTuple ERP database.

Here's a blog post from xTuple’s Director of Product Development John Rogelstad on the new mobile Web technology in which the vendor admits to switching a technology workhorse in a midstream; i.e., Enyo 2.0 (an HTML5 framework based on Hewlett Packard's WebOS platform) replaced the initially envisioned Blossom (a fork of SproutCore, that xTuple sponsored to evolve that framework to a mobile-ready platform) for several reasons, significantly fewer lines of code being one.

I don't know of too many companies, software or otherwise,  that would be this transparent in their bet-the-business research and development (R&D) effort. Two-thirds of the code didn't have to change, as this is just a presentation layer. Web Mobile Client is in private beta now, public beta very shortly; general availability (GA) in the customer relationship management (CRM) module is expected in the fall of 2012.

We will have to stay tuned to see how the value propositions of FOSS and commercial software will further be espoused by xTuple and its ecosystem. Your views, comments, opinions, and particular experiences with xTuple are always welcome in the meantime.

Further reading:

 
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